When I was younger, I was convinced that everyone around me knew there was something wrong with me. I believed those closest to me knew what was wrong with me, but had been instructed by my parents not to tell me, so I could have a normal life.
My mother, who could be described as a helicopter parent, did nothing to allay my fears. I wasn’t allowed to have or go to sleepovers until much later than any of my friends, she always came on school camps and any excursions with me, was heavily involved in all my school activities, and even worked at my school for the majority of the time I was there.
While this could be described as the opposite of bad parenting, it made me feel like she couldn’t let me out of her sight, and confirmed for me the fact that there was indeed something wrong with me.
In an effort to help me develop my self-confidence, my mother put me into after-school drama classes, which in my opinion, only made things worse. Everyone else who went to drama class was there because they were outgoing, naturally charismatic, and, in short, actually wanted to be there. I hated every second of the experience and would have much rather hiding in my bedroom with a good book.
It wasn’t until 4 years ago, when I went to see a psychologist for the first time, that I was able to put a name to why I felt there was something wrong with me. It wasn’t just that I was shy or quiet or lacking self-confidence; I had a mental health condition called social anxiety.
Finding out that there was a word for what I had been experiencing all my life actually made me feel surprisingly normal. It was like I hadn’t been able to put into words all the ways I felt or all the thoughts I had, but my psychologist got it, and gave me the words to explain it all.
It felt like how I’ve heard people who need glasses feel when they wear them for the first time. Like everything that used to be a blur, was suddenly brought into sharper focus.
Finding out I have social anxiety has been liberating because it explains so much about me and the way I see the world and interact with others. This revelation has made me passionate about sharing my experience in the hope that I can help someone else who is going through the same struggles and feeling the same isolation I did growing up.
According to BeyondBlue, in any one year, 1 million Australians have anxiety.
One of my favourite quotes is ‘Strength doesn’t come from what you can do; it comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t do.’‘Strength doesn’t come from what you can do; it comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t do.’ Click To Tweet
Writing about my social anxiety through blogging helps me not only make sense of the thoughts and feelings I have, but I like to think my words will help even one person who reads them to realise they’re not alone. Everyone experiences anxiety differently, but if I can help even one other person realise they’re not the only one thinking particular thoughts by sharing my experience, it will be worth it.